First App Using Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API Launches in Switzerland

The first app that takes advantage of the Exposure Notification API developed by Apple and Google has launched in Switzerland, according to a report from the BBC.

exposure notification cartoon
A team of app developers working on contact tracing app called SwissCovid have rolled out the app in a beta capacity for members of the Swiss army, hospital workers, and civil servants. After the app is tested and approved by MPs, it will see a wider public rollout, which could happen by mid-June.

Latvia also soon plans to introduce an app that uses the API, but other European countries are hesitant. The digital affairs ministers for Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal recently published a joint letter that criticizes the Apple/Google API for the restrictions put in place, mainly the decentralized device-to-device notification approach and the lack of location data collection.

"The use of digital technologies must be designed in such a way that we, as democratically elected governments, evaluate it and judge it acceptable to our citizens and in accordance with our European values," read the letter. "We believe that challenging this right by imposing technical standards represents a misstep and a missed opportunity for open collaboration between governments and the private sector."

Apple released the Exposure Notification API as part of iOS 13.5 last week. At the time, Apple said that several U.S. states and 22 countries had requested and received access to the API, with more expected to join.

In the United States, there are no apps available that take advantage of ‌Exposure Notification‌ as of yet, but Alabama, South Carolina, and North Dakota all plan to use the API. The UK, Australia, multiple European states, and several U.S. states, such as Utah, have opted out of using the API.

The ‌Exposure Notification‌ feature in iOS 13.5 is deactivated by default and cannot be used without an app created by a public health authority. It is also privacy focused and collects no personally identifiable data or location information, with more details available in our Exposure Notification guide.

Top Rated Comments

bsolar Avatar
51 months ago

I doubt a lot of people will be installing that in Switzerland. First of all, people really don’t trust the government with their data here. And secondly, if you get notified that you’ve been potentially exposed, you need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Except that the government decided that you’re not entitled to your salary during that time. So there’s that :)
You are spreading misinformation. First of all, that "people really don't trust the government with their data here" is pretty much BS: don't generalize your personal opinion as some kind of fact.

Most important, in Switzerland if you get quarantined you definitely still get paid your salary ('https://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/de/home/Arbeit/Personenfreizugigkeit_Arbeitsbeziehungen/Arbeitsrecht/FAQ_zum_privaten_Arbeitsrecht/verhinderung-des-arbeitnehmers-an-der-arbeitsleistung.html'). If you need, explanation in English ('https://en.comparis.ch/information/gesundheit-praevention/aktuelles/corona-lohnzahlung'):

If a mandatory quarantine on healthy, able-bodied people has been called by the authorities or your employer, your employer is still obliged to continue paying your wages
Switzerland was always against a centralized, privacy-infringing solution and was working on a decentralized, privacy-preserving solution long before Google and Apple came out with their own technology: actually their technology is inspired on that original effort ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decentralized_Privacy-Preserving_Proximity_Tracing'):

According to Google, the Google / Apple contact tracing project was "heavily inspired" by the DP-3T protocol.
DP-3T stands for Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing, which is designed to do exactly what's on the tin.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
manu chao Avatar
51 months ago

Many of us can't understand how the virus "knows" it's only dangerous if you have been close to someone for 15 minutes or more. Not 14 minutes. Given it can lie on surfaces for extended periods, hangs in the air for quite a while and just needs a sneeze from a passerby at the wrong time.
And many of us don‘t understand what your point is. Are you suggesting we test everybody within a 10-km radius of a confirmed infected person? Why not start with those that have been close to that person for more than X minutes?

What that X should be exactly depends on two factors:
1) In comparison with other methods identifying people to be tested (eg, via their professions) what average contact time produces the same likelihood of infection as, eg, people in certain professions currently have?
2) What is your current testing capacity (or budget to invest in it)? If you cannot test those that receive an exposure notification, they would need to self-isolate.

There are many unknowns that go into determining even just these two factors. But we cannot wait until we have perfect insight before implementing all the various counter-measures against COVID-19. We have to start with guesses and then refine them as we learn more and as the circumstances evolve. That 15 minutes is a guess and might very well change over time.

It’s like when you do body temperature checks to identify potentially infected people, you pick a temperature threshold even though you know it’s not going to be perfect. Some people have just naturally higher or lower temperatures than others. Some people won’t have any fever while still being infectious.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dwsolberg Avatar
51 months ago

The fact so many health workers with proper PPE training and resources are still catching it while working would show it isn't that hard to catch.
1. Where do you get that information? I have read that health care workers are not disproportionately getting COVID-19.

2. There's a big difference between medical practice and the ordinary way people interact. I, for instance, have never emptied anyone's bedpan, asked someone to cough, intubated anyone, drew their blood, gave them medicines, helped them eat (and on and on). Those things require getting in people's space and potentially getting breathing in their breath. Also, if a person has COVID-19 and they're stuck in the same hospital room for hours or days, there is likely going to be a lot more virus hovering around then if they walk by you in the grocery store.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
luvbug Avatar
51 months ago
Gov'ts don't like the API, because it doesn't give them the control they want. They really want to use the current climate of public fear to socialize the idea that they have "good" reasons to impinge upon our personal freedom and privacy, we just need to trust them. Right. I trust them about as far as I can throw them in a telephone booth (remember those?).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bsolar Avatar
51 months ago

I mean they've wanted people to give their addresses to restaurant owners when eating out, and even that nobody does.
Nobody gives the address to the restaurant because the address is not required, only name and tel. Furthermore the information is not given to government authorities, it's kept by the restaurant up to 14 days and must be destroyed afterwards.

More info here ('https://www.gastrosuisse.ch/de/angebot/branchenwissen/informationen-covid-19/branchen-schutzkonzept-unter-covid-19/'). (DE/FR/IT only).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mihike Avatar
51 months ago

NOPE. If you're scared, stay home. Everyone else, get busy living life.
Because spreading a disease that's already killed hundreds of thousands is... a joke? We could have been practically done with this by now if people had followed reasonable precautions (as they did in some countries). Now we have another reasonable and practical solution, but hey, spreading paranoia is more fun than getting the economy back on track and saving lives.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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